Cameron's Birth Story

(This saga played out over a series of 5 days, so consider yourself warned.  You might want to grab a cup of coffee and settle in for the story that follows.)


For James' full birth story (my firstborn) click here.  Quick summary of James' delivery: Water broke, labor didn't start, eventually started but was long and slow, after 15 hours I was only dilated to 4 cm, started Pitocin, serious pain and fatigue, felt out of control, no pain meds or epidural, 8 excruciating hours later James was born.  The thought actually entered my mind immediately after, "I never really want to do that again," but, of course, I later changed my mind when the memory of the pain faded and was replaced by the deepest love for our son.

My first experience with childbirth left me with some things to work through as I mentally and emotionally prepared to bring our second child into the world.  I wasn't really jaded or mad at how things went the first time.  I would have made a different choice in retrospect (started Pitocin earlier which would have cut down on labor time, pain, and fatigue drastically) but I didn't have regrets.  I learned from the experience and let it shape my opinion on interventions in childbirth (to be more open to them) for the future.

Mostly I was scared.  I was scared of the intense pain again.  Of feeling weak, out of control, and alone.  Of questioning whether I was going to make it through.  And I believed that if I stayed scared, my second experience in childbirth would very likely bring similar feelings of pain, weakness, and insecurity.

From a spiritual perspective, I believe that fear is not from God, but it is a tool the enemy uses to deceive us and keep us from walking in the fullness of good God has made available to his children.  God commands us "do not be afraid" because in a place of perfect love from him and trust in him there is no room for fear.  I wanted to be in that place of love, trust, and peace during delivery and every moment of my life.

From a strictly physical perspective, when you give fear power in your mind, it has drastic physical effects on your body in childbirth and any situation.  Think about what happens to your body when you get nervous- heart rate goes up, palms get sweaty, you feel shaky, weak, or have tight muscles.  Multiply your average nervousness by 1000 in childbirth and think of how this works against the natural process of your body pushing a baby out!  Fear causing tenseness and tightness within the body slows labor's progress and makes it more painful.  

I wanted fear gone.

So I did the only thing I know how to do to get rid of fear, I turned to God.  I prayed in the weeks leading up to my delivery for his peace, love and grace.  I grew in confidence that God made me capable to birth a child according to his design and without complication.  I asked for the gift of a labor that would be hard work, but not too painful.  Mostly I rested in his love and trusted him to take care of me and my baby.  

I also made a game plan.  I was not going to rule out any interventions (epidural included) from the get go, and I wanted to see how things progressed and played out and seek God in prayer for direction as to how to proceed.  

Act I

It was Monday night, August 18th.  My due date was that Friday the 22nd.  I had one of my final prenatal appointments scheduled for the following morning.  The specialist doctor whom I had been assigned to for the last few months of my pregnancy, due to the subchorionic hematoma they discovered at my 18 week ultrasound that never resolved, was on holiday in the UK and wasn't scheduled to return until my due date.  

As I was getting ready for bed around 10 PM, I started to feel some crampy contraction-like pains.  I started keeping track of them around 11 to see if they were regular and the real deal, or just Braxton Hicks.  They were relatively mild, lasting 20-30 seconds and 15 minutes apart.  I laid down and tried to go to sleep but the pain was just strong enough that it kept me awake.  I kept timing and by 2 AM they were more like 45 seconds to a minute long and 10-15 minutes apart.  Around 4 or 5 AM I was convinced it was happening, so I texted our families to let them know.  But by about 6 AM, I was pretty tired from being up all night and I finally fell asleep for a couple hours.  When I woke up to get ready to go to my appointment, the contractions had stopped.  

At my appointment I told the doctor what had happened that night and she told me it was fairly typical.  They wanted to strip my membranes and I gave them the go ahead for two reasons: the previous night's action signaled to me that my body was close to ready, and since they are typically pretty quick to induce at the public hospital we had chosen (the day after your due date they schedule an induction) I thought it seemed like a good idea try the least invasive method to get things going naturally before reaching that point.  Plus I was excited to meet my baby and had gotten my hopes up during the night before that it was time!

I went home and took a nice long nap that afternoon and waited for something to happen.

Act II

I had been doing some freelance design work for a friend's company in the weeks leading up to this point and we were wrapping up the final edits that week.  He realized it would be advantageous to meet and finish it all up before I had a baby and wouldn't be able to work on the project for a number of weeks, so he asked if he could bring a pizza over that night and we could discuss the final changes and then he would entertain James while I worked on them.  

So that's what we did.  Justin went to work for the evening, and our friend came over.  We ate pizza and discussed the changes and then I got to work.  Meanwhile, my contractions had started up again.  They were pretty mild again, 15-20 minutes apart and lasting 30-45 seconds.  I bounced on the birth ball and worked at the computer and our 40-something, male friend, who in some ways feels more like my dad than my peer, read James books.  It was a somewhat humorous situation.  But I was also thankful for it.  It was nice not having to make dinner and take care of James alone that night, and it gave me something productive to do to distract me from what was going on in my middle section.

The contractions continued at that rate until about 1:30 AM, when they picked up a little to be lasting 45 seconds- 1 minute and were 8-15 minutes apart.  I couldn't sleep again, though I really really tried.  I did some googling (of course) and the timing indicated early labor.  These contractions continued all day long on Wednesday- around 10 minutes apart, lasting about a minute.  Justin was home during the day and we kept expecting at any point for things to get going and head to the hospital.  We went about our day, watched TV, played with James, I walked around our apartment building's parking lot in circles and up and down the balcony and stairs.  But they stayed slow and steady.  Not unbearable pain by any means, but enough that I'd have to take some deep breaths to get through them.

That night as it got to be bed time I felt stumped.  Remember, this would now be going into the third night in a row that I hadn't been able to sleep.  I wasn't really excited about that prospect.  I was confused why early labor was taking so long, because I was reading online that for first time moms the average length of early labor is 6-12 hours, and often much shorter for subsequent deliveries. But this was my second baby and it seemed that I had been in early labor for 30 hours!!  (That's not even counting the first night where I stopped and started!)  I began to wonder if we should go to the hospital since it had been so long and maybe I needed some Pitocin or something to get things really going.

We decided to pray and ask God for a sign of what to do. As I prayed and listened, I felt like told me two things.  1. You prayed for a peaceful and relatively painless delivery so don't assume things aren't progressing just because you're not in a lot of pain.  2. Don't go to the hospital yet.
I started googling about long or stalled early labors and came across some very helpful articles written by/for midwives and doulas.  Basically they explained that if baby gets stuck in a strange position, your body will get stuck in early labor contracting over and over and over without making any progress.  So there are some physical stretches/positions you can do to help to move the baby into a better position to move labor along.  We tried this Side-lying Release and I went to bed to try and sleep.  

Around midnight, I came back out to the living room (Justin hadn't gone to bed yet) and announced I definitely couldn't sleep.  The contractions were getting stronger and a little bit closer together, more like 6-9 minutes apart.  Even though typically contractions come less than 5 minutes apart in active labor, we felt like it was time to go to the hospital since things seemed to be moving forward and since it was my second baby we guessed it might go quickly from this point on.  

We gathered everything up, left a key and video monitor for James with the Adertons next door and headed out.  On the way to the hospital I told Justin I was strongly considering getting an epidural once I got there because I was so tired and worn out from lack of sleep and now 32 hours of mild-moderate contractions.


RIPAS hospital (the government-run public hospital) during the day is a parking disaster and does not have a valet service as far as I know.  Lucky for us, it was the middle of the night so parking wasn't a problem.  Justin dropped me off near the entrance and drove to park the car in the parking garage.  I found a nearby outdoor bench and sat down while I waited for Justin to meet me.

I sat there for probably 10 minutes by myself.  I actually sort of chucked to myself thinking about what I looked like to the few people who passed by and saw this very pregnant lady sitting alone on that bench in the middle of the night.  I wondered if they knew I was about to have a baby.  I laughed at how this whole arriving at the hospital process looked very different than it would have in America.

And you guys, my contractions still weren't even that bad.  5-8 minutes apart maybe and strong but not unbearable.  

Justin arrived and we walked up to the delivery wing.  It was about 1:30 AM.  We walked in the door and there was a little tiny room with about 8 waiting room chairs in it and a reception window that was closed and a locked door with a buzzer beside it.  The chairs were almost all full of people but none of them were pregnant and they all looked very tired.  They gave us polite smiles as we walked in and sat down, unsure of what to do.  Someone motioned to us to push the buzzer and we did, and soon after a nurse was leading us inside.  

I was led to a room for initial observation and Justin was asked to wait outside.  They hooked me up to a monitor to measure my contractions and the baby's vitals and also told me they were going to do a cervical check.  If I was past 4 cm (in active labor) I would be admitted to a delivery room.  If not, I would have to go to an early labor room and I believe Justin would not have been able to be with me if other women were also present.  The nurse measured and when her face lit up my heart jumped with expectation.  "Already 7 cm!" She was genuinely excited as she told me and the other nurses in the room.  "Hopefully will be very soon!"  

I was amazed, relieved, and so happy to already be at 7 cm based on how (not) intense my contractions had been so far.  It felt nothing like the pain I experienced to even get to 4 cm during my first delivery.  I decided in my mind on no epidural since I was close, and felt really powerful to finish it off.  

They led Justin and me to a delivery room that was small, sterile, dated-looking, and lit by bright fluorescent lights and I felt thankful I wouldn't have to spend very much time in it.   I changed into the hospital gown, a red checked 2 piece number that consisted of a shirt with a slit up the back and tie at the neck, and a skirt that was literally a giant tube (no elastic) that I tied in a knot to fit around my bump.  I laid down on my side on a table/bed thing and they hooked me up to monitors.  There would be no moving around from this point on, but I didn't mind because I was close.

Contractions came and went and I laid on my side and chatted with Justin in between them and listened to some music through headphones.  The nurses asked me if I would prefer an episiotomy and I said no please.  Then they asked if I would like them to break my water and I said yes please.  

It took them some time to prepare the tools to break my water and maybe 15 minutes to successfully do so.  They measured and said I was to 8 or 9 cm.  After they broke my water I had one REALLY strong and painful contraction and I threw up half onto the floor and half into a wastebasket that Justin shoved under my chin once he realized what was happening. The nurse/midwife told me to let them know when I felt the urge to push and I said ok not yet, but probably soon.  

A few more contractions passed and then I felt it so I rolled over onto my back and started yelling a little at the feeling.  The nurse and midwife ran into the room and started yelling, "Wait, Wait, Not Yet, Not Yet!" as they scrambled to get the area ready.  I pushed hard 2 or 3 more times with some yelling and ow-ow-ow-ow!'s and then he was here.  

Cameron Scott was born at 3:09 AM, less than two hours after we had arrived at the hospital.  Justin told me his cord was wrapped around his neck and he was a little blue when he came out but they untangled him right away and he was fine.  No tearing and no stitches for me, thankfully.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the hospital staff immediately after the birth, but they did exactly what I hoped for and passed Cameron immediately to me for skin to skin contact and nursing.  

After he was finished eating, a nurse changed his diaper and dressed him for us.  We brought along one of those sleepers with an open bottom for easy diaper changes (like a long dress) for him to wear since the hospital didn't provide anything.  The hospital in America supplied that kind of sleeper for newborns, but it must have been an unique choice in this country because she gave us sort of a hard time as she struggled to get it on him and asked us why we didn't bring a normal onesie and pants for him to wear!

Around 5 AM Cam and I were wheeled into the ward and Justin went home.  There weren't any private rooms available so I was in a very large room partitioned by curtains into little rooms full of new mothers and babies (no area for the fathers to stay).  I was so so so physically tired, but I also couldn't sleep since I had a post-birth energy high, so I snuggled my new baby and took selfies and texted family and friends who had sent well wishes during labor.    

The ward was very different than my postpartum/recovery experience with James in America.  It was loud and chaotic and there were noisy visitors all day long and I hardly got any sleep.  As a brand new mom I think I would have been freaking out, because I felt a certain pressure to keep my baby quiet, especially at night, for the sake of the others around me.  The first night there was a couple hour stretch where I could not get Cameron to stop crying not matter what I tried and I felt SO BAD.  I was that mom with the screaming baby keeping everyone else up!  But at the same time it felt kind of nice to have all these other mothers around me that were going through the exact same thing.  There was an unspoken solidarity between us all.  

The nurses hardly ever checked in on us.  They were available if you had any questions, but there were no hourly blood pressure checks or abdomen massages (? that doesn't seem like the right word because it hurts so badly!)  They did not perform a circumcision or give Cameron a bath (they wiped off his head only immediately after delivery).  

Justin and James came to visit the afternoon Cam was born, we had some other visitors that day, and Justin came back for a little bit that evening and the following morning to take us home.  Because I'd had a normal vaginal delivery, we were discharged after 24 hours.  They did an assessment of me and Cameron and released us to go home after scolding me for introducing a pacifier already.  But to make up for the quick hospital stay, a midwife came every day for a week after delivery and checked in on us at home, taking our temperatures and my blood pressure and cleaning Cameron's cord.    

All in all, I was totally happy with the experience at RIPAS, though it wasn't posh by any means.  The total cost breakdown was as follows: Vaginal delivery- $120, hospital stay for me- $20 x 2 days = $40, vaccinations and hospital stay for Cam- $90.  Total cost- $250 BND, or $185 USD.  For us, it was totally worth it to endure some less nice facilities and circumstances to have a baby basically for free.  

And the difference in delivery experiences between James and Cameron was like night and day.  After the first I felt defeated and scared to go again, after the second I felt empowered and thankful for how smoothly it had gone.   The first felt so long and I was incredibly exhausted in the last stages.  The second was longer all in all, but very quick during the tough part and even then I had so much more energy and was in better spirits.  The first I was afraid, and the second, even though I had even more logical reason to be afraid (the subchorionic hematoma and delivery in a foreign country and environment) I trusted God more and it made all the difference.  

I am thankful for both experiences, for what they taught me about myself and my ability to get through and conquer hard things.  For what they taught me about the power of trusting in God and putting aside fear.  And for the two precious gifts they brought me- James and Cameron- my sweet sweet boys.  

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